New Book Grapples with Policy Issues in Social Studies Education

Scholars, Policymakers, and Practitioners Explore the Implications for Teaching and Learning 

Book coverWhat gets taught in schools, or excluded from them, often is the result of policy decisions made at various levels. These decisions have real implications for students’ educational opportunities, given their effects on schools’ social and material resources and the ways educators prioritize various subjects and practices. In social studies education particularly, policy affects how students come to understand and interact with history, politics, and their economic, geographic, and cultural conditions.
A new volume – Social Studies in the New Education Policy Era: Conversations on Purposes, Perspectives, and Practices (Routledge, February 2018) – comprehensively addresses many important policy issues related to social studies education. Co-edited by Kevin Meuwissen, associate professor and director of the social studies teacher preparation program at the Warner School, and Paul Fitchett, associate professor at UNC Charlotte, the volume invites researchers, policymakers, and practitioners into compelling, open-ended education policy dialogues.
By facilitating conversations about the relationships among policy, practice, and research in social studies education, this volume illuminates various positions on a range of issues from curriculum standards and testing mandates to the appropriate roles of social studies educators as public policy advocates. Each chapter features two authors responding to a common question, offering readers multiple arguments (and subsequently counterarguments) from which to delve into social studies education policy discussions that are both practical and academic. These commentaries aim to inspire, challenge, and ultimately strengthen readers’ understandings of the ways in which policy might affect social studies education in the present and future.
“Policy factors and their consequences don’t often play prominently in scholarship on social studies education in the United States, but they should” says Meuwissen. “Our hope is that this collection of authentic dialogues about open-ended policy questions will prompt some new thinking about how to develop and steer policy in social studies education, in ways that ultimately benefit students and their teachers and schools. The subtlety of these conversations really matches the complexity of the policy issues at hand.”
Keith Barton, professor of curriculum and instruction at Indiana University, says this important collection of essays is indispensable for anyone interested in how policy can influence social studies education in the United States and Canada. “Too often, education policy is formulated without a clear understanding of its impact on practice,” Barton explains in his review of the book. “This is a particular problem in the field of social studies, where we have relatively few systematic treatments of the role of policy. The thoughtful and nuanced reflections in this book – written by some of the leading figures in social studies education – fill that gap admirably.”
Photo of Kevin MeuwissenMeuwissen focuses his research on social studies educators’ curricular and pedagogical decision making under the influence of competing school-institutional policy influences, with a new line of scholarship that explores adolescents’ political thinking. Support from a two-year Spencer Foundation grant allows him to explore new ways of learning and teaching politics focused on strengthening adolescents’ strategies for informed political reflection, discourse, and decision. He serves as the director of the social studies teacher education program and director of teacher education at the Warner School. He received the 2017 Exemplary Research Award from the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).  
Social Studies in the New Education Policy Era is available for order on Routledge’s website.
About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education offers graduate programs in teacher preparation, K-12 school leadership, higher education, education policy, counseling, human development, online teaching and learning, program evaluation, applied behavior analysis, and health professions education. The Warner School of Education offers PhD programs and an accelerated EdD option that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform. 

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Tags: book, education policy, Kevin Meuwissen, social studies, social studies education